The topographical accuracy and participants viewpoint established in Bruce Hunt’s paintings are fundamental to the many and considerable achievements evidenced in Summit Fever.
These important paintings “are constructed through an accumulation of information” deeply informed by the artist being out there, in amongst the high country of the Lindis, St. Bathans and Manitoto areas. Hunt says: “I am adamant about challenging these places physically and climbing their steep and rugged ridgelines when gathering information for paintings. This physical communion with the landscapes that are my subjects is vital to my understanding and knowledge of a place.”
In every painting the viewer is placed at an extreme vantage point and the multiple lines of sight established by this are varied and momentous. In Geordie Hills (2008) and Flight (Chain Hill and the Middle Hills) (2008) sensations of movement (down, in, over, beyond) develop and emerge. In Puketika and the Lindis River (2008), Summit Fever – Longslip Mountain and Beyond (2008), and Western Ramparts – from Longslip (Lindis) (2008) the sensation of enclosure - of being-in – becomes the ‘key’ to ‘how’ the viewer experiences these remarkable paintings.
Hunt is painting much more than being there and seeing. His work has an acutely developed narrative about use and environment, about time and natural processes. In The Crossing – the Source of the Lindis River (2008) Hunt’s concerns and command of place and complex geomorphology is astonishingly realised. Equally important in this work and characteristic now to Hunt’s stylistic delivery is that he is painting much more than the skin and substance of the earth, mountains, rivers – he is also, unmistakably painting air and the role it plays in what we see.
The expressions of his work, the articulation of light and how it falls, informs, determines and radiates in these landscapes could easily blind the viewer to another fundamental fact: Bruce Hunt produces these paintings in the studio beginning with layers of very thin acrylic pigment which come to form a cool monochrome base. Upon this – with a noticeably restricted palette of pthalo blue, ultramarine blue, magenta, ochres, siennas and white – he builds forms, folds and compositions that achieve all the hallmarks (and notable complexities) of accuracy.